The indentation in the sand is small, circular, rough-edged, unremarkable. The kind of thing you’d walk by without a glance in a place littered with shells, where dolphins jump the waves, and sandpipers hunt tiny clams along the shore. The top of this turtle nest is almost invisible, as it’s meant to be. I’ve come to Florida with two friends who are in a mastermind group with me. The place where we’re spending the week is home to over a thousand turtle nests like the one we’re staring at right now.
The nest is marked off with thin wooden stakes that hold important information. A local with wrinkles across her face like lines in a love story with the sun told us how to read the numbers. The top one is the day in the season on which the eggs were laid, a mother turtle dragging herself out of the ocean, leaving her young beneath a pile of sand. According to that number, this nest should hatch tonight.
The top of the nest rolls like a boiling pot and we watch as one tiny head emerges. This process will repeat for two hours as the tiny turtles push up toward the surface. The only way out of this nest is in community. The turtles will push each other upward, stand on each other’s backs, and combine the incremental effort of their tiny fins to push away the sand. There is no solo trek out of this nest, no option for doing it alone. It’s a combined effort, all for one and one for all.
I look at my friends during this process. We’ve been in a mastermind group for years. We’ve helped each other write books, launch businesses, overcome obstacles, not quit on the days we feel discouraged, and remember who we are when other voices in our lives tell us to stop dreaming. Where would we be today without each other?
Our mastermind is simple: Meet once a month and each person gets about an hour to process whatever she would like. That’s it — no fancy agenda or formal questions. Just show up, share, and listen. Over and over again.
More heads appear in the nest. Then suddenly one turtle breaks free. The others follow, climbing the sides of the nest, scattering across the sand, marching toward the ocean. They follow each other toward what they know already in their fragile turtle bones is home.
Isn’t this what we’re all doing too? Helping each other move toward home, the place where we belong? Home to who we’re truly created to be. Home to what we’re called to do. Home to heaven one day, the place with the crystal sea and the Savior who once walked on water.
The waves reach out to welcome the turtles and they are swept into the saltwater. We lose sight of them as they disappear into the night.
I turn toward my friends. “That was amazing!” we say to each other. It’s not the first time we’ve uttered those words. We’ve said it when one of us had a victory, made it through a hard time, did what once felt impossible.
Sometimes when I talk about community like this, people assume it comes easily to me. But I scored 96% introvert on the last quiz I took, I’ve been diagnosed with social anxiety, and just ordering a pizza on the phone makes me nervous. It’s not easy or comfortable for me to reach out to others, it never has been and it likely will never be.
I’ve found when it comes to connection, it’s about feeling the fear and doing it anyway. It’s about surrendering my desire to be sought out and instead showing up as a person who is a safe space for others to become who they were created to be. Will it be awkward? Absolutely. Will it be harder than I thought? Always. Will it be worth it anyway? Yep.
I look at the vast ocean and wonder where each turtle will end up, what their stories will be.
I look at my friends and wonder the same.
I don’t know, but what I’m grateful for and certain of in this moment is that we won’t do it alone.
Fascinating! I see a picture in my mind of all those tiny turtles breaking out and waddling towards the ocean, and I can’t stop smiling. lol. Too cute! That is so cool that you can tell with such precision when they will hatch based on the info on the wooden stakes! Amazing indeed.
Thank you for sharing, Holley, and Thank you for the reminder on the importance of community! Praying that everyone who needs a community, or even just a friend, will be blessed and delighted with the gift of companionship. Amen.
On a family cruise we had an excursion to help local scientists and the baby sea turtles in A southern country in the Caribbean. The baby sea turtles had climbed out the nest and we had to rescue the still living turtles that were not able to get out. We counted the baby sea turtles and eggs that didn’t hatch then we released the baby sea turtles. It was greater than Christmas morning. So exciting to help the turtles to be able to survive.
Ariel Krienke says
I have anxiety calling people as well. But it gets easier once I start talking. Thanks for the encouragement.
Thank you Holley. I am in the midst of making those awful calls- trying to find a new doctor, dentist, internet provider, etc- I just moved back to my old area from another state- not at all easy for a 68 year old widow. And every call when I finally have the courage to make it, is preceded by such anxiety. I do have friends in the area, and am making the drive to my old church for connection but I would love to have a strong group to commit to getting together on a consistent basis. This is something I want to work on once I can see past all the boxes to be unpacked. In the meantime, there are lots of prayers asking for guidance and help.
Ruth Mills says
Dear Father I pray that You bring friends to Madeline to encourage her & be encouraged by her. Even today provide her with someone to cheer her on in her new place; maybe even unpacking a box with her. Be tangible to her that she is not overwhelmed with the getting settled. Assure her she is never alone & You are with her & more than enough to meet every need. In Your great name I beg, Jesus, Amen.
Beth Williams says
Abba Father provide friends for Madeline. People who will come help her unpack boxes & encourage her. Guide her to the providers she needs. Send a small group of like minded people to her. A group that can meet often & just be together. You word says that we were made for community. Please provide one for her. In Jesus Name AMEN.
Hi! I rediscovered this blog post this week and decided to read the comments and there you are! We were both on the same path to ME earlier in the year (see comments from 5/19 post – https://www.incourage.me/2022/05/how-to-find-your-way-through-the-middle-of-a-transition.html) and I was happy to see you have also arrived to ME and God DID answer our prayers (how cool is that?!). I was able to find a place and have been here in Gorham since July. If you do happen to see this belated reply and are still in need of some assistance and happen to live nearby, I am happy to help! My email is email@example.com.
Ruth Mills says
The phrase “wrinkles across her face like lines of a love story” stopped me in my tracks & has given me a new perspective on the signs of aging, dare I say decline in my mirror. I could’ve stopped reading there & been impressed with your encouragement. Yet there was more to read & more encouragement to be had!!! Yes yes yes we need community even when it’s hard & hurtful. God using others to hone us toward Himself is a beautiful mystery & love story written across our days! Thank you for sharing, Holley! Blessings!
Diane Bailey says
You’ve never seemed like an introvert when I’ve been around you.
Your warmth and friendliness are what come shining through. You handle it so beautifully. And when we find our nest of people who can push and rejoice each other forward, it is a treasure! P.s. I love learning more about turtles!
This speaks to me on so many levels!
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Holly we all need friend to be there for either make us braver and stronger. Jesus yes is our best friend. But he sends friends to be there for us so as we can talk and be there for either. Plus help either in times of need. We can go on to pray for either and if we have special friends we can trust tell them how we feel. They will agree to pray for us and be there for us to help us in our time of need and help us seek Jesus to see what he saying. I love the story of the trutles how they know what today after born to get back into the ocean to survive. Their mother trusts they will know to do this. It like us we have to trust and believe our heavenly Father will trust us with what ever thing he gives us to do. Look to him for everything. Thank you for what you shared. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little keeping you all in prayer incourage xx
Janet Williams says
Yes We Do…and when God is in the middle WE ARE “Better, Braver, Stronger” \0/
Love the comparison of the sea turtles to community and support of friends.
Beth Williams says
It’s amazing how animals instinctively know how to help each other through trials. Loved thee story of sea turtles. I can see them running towards the ocean.
I never realized how introverted I am. Thus finding community can be hard, but much worth the effort. God knew that we would need each other down here. We will face trials & tribulations. It helps to have someone there to get you through them. Sometimes community can be simply one or two people. Love that kind best. I can encourage, love on & make you better, braver & stronger by showering you with God’s love.
Diana McFarling Mary and Martha Consultant says
Thank you for sharing. I am a person who has anxiety at different times. I also think I won’t say anything so I keep stuffing it down.
Melissa Washington says
Very encouraging word. At admire the transparency. I definitely can relate and I’m encouraged to put this encouraging word to work
Ꭲhanks very nice bⅼog!